Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and one of the Internet’s biggest villains, gave an interview this week in which he said … well, he said a lot of stuff about music, his background, and Taylor Swift.
One comment, though, really jumped out. Shkreli — who became infamous earlier this year when he drastically raised the price of a drug taken by AIDS patients — was talking about Action Bronson, one of his favorite hip-hop artists:
I wanted to talk about Action Bronson. You know he’s Albanian? … You know I’m Albanian? … I’m the most successful Albanian to ever walk the face of this Earth.
That is quite a claim. Which got us thinking — is it true? Has Shkreli, the boy king of Brooklyn, become the most successful person ever to come out the the tiny corner of Eastern Europe that is Albania?
A few names jump out at you as possible contenders to the crown:
– Eliza Dushku: The actress starred in a number of successful movies in the early 2000’s, notably Bring it On. That’s pretty good, but a lack of sustained success means Shkreli probably has her beat.
– Regis Philbin: On merit, Regis has a chance. The man has been a force in the entertainment industry for decades, and is a genuine cultural treasure. But, he’s only half Albanian, and his Albanian ancestors actually lived in Italy. So again, Shkreli holds on.
– Kara DioGuardi: The former American Idol Judge is, like Philbin, a descendent of ethnic Albanians from Italy. American Idol is nice, but still not on Shkreli’s level.
– The Belushi Brothers: First off, Jim. Easy choice. Shkreli wins, with all due respect to fans of According to Jim. With John, though, Shkreli has finally met his match. Though he tragically died young, John Belushi’s comedic chops as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live and in classic films like Animal House make him more successful than Shkreli.
– Mother Theresa: Yes, you read that right. The famous nun and humanitarian was Albanian. She’s been beatified and could very well become a saint. So though her vow of poverty kept her from becoming as rich as Shkreli, it seems fair to say she is more successful.
The Albanian embassy sent Fortune a list of famous Albanians, which indicated that Shkreli may not even be the most successful Albanian in pharmaceutical history. Ferid Murad is a half-Albanian American physician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1998 for “discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system.”
When I reached out to Shkreli on Twitter to see if he wanted to talk about this, he responded thusly:
I pushed a bit further, asking specifically about Mother Theresa:
So Shkreli may judge success only based on finance, which means he may be right. By our calculations, though, Shkreli loses out to at least two people. Maybe the mix tape will change that.